THROUGHOUT Britain, more than half a million potholes were reported to local councils in 2017.

In figures obtained by the RAC through a freedom of information request, in excess of 512,000 were reported to 161 authorities, which was up by 44 per cent on the figure two years previous.

The poor state of the roads has long been a major problem in Northumberland, with the Tyne Valley’s rural roads particularly neglected.

However, Northumberland County Council has come back fighting and is putting the £7.73m it received from the Chancellor in October to good use by improving the county’s local highways.

With the assistance of an £80,000 new paving machine, the authority is using the fund to support 60 schemes across the county with many areas in Tynedale set to benefit. Of the total £7.73m for Northumberland, a total of £1.64m has been earmarked for the district. Included in the list is a £250,000 resurfacing of Prudhoe’s Front Street and a £150,000 project to improve the roads at the town’s Dukes Way Industrial Estate.

County councillor for Prudhoe South, Coun. Gordon Stewart, said: “The front street in Prudhoe is planned for £250,000 worth of substantial road repairs which will be welcomed by residents, businesses and visitors.

“It will give a new lease of life to the town and develop the tourism offer in Prudhoe.

“It will inconvenience people in the short term but the businesses and residents I have spoken to are welcoming the investment in an area that has been awaiting improvements for a long time.

“We are also supporting the investment in the Low Prudhoe industrial estate to make the roads better for our businesses.”

The £7.73m will be used or road maintenance repairs, which includes potholes, bridges and local highways infrastructure, and all work will need to be carried out before the end of March 2019. In the coming weeks, the county council is expected to announce further funding to fix potholes in housing estates.

This would be welcome news for Bellingham resident Lisa Buchanan, who has raised concerns about the state of her estate in Hillside.

While pleased to learn of a £200,000 project to repair the road outside of Brownrigg, south of the village, which she described as like ‘driving on a train track’, she said work was desperately needed to fill three deep potholes which had developed over a number of years on her estate.

She said: “The potholes near the garages have all deepened and are so sharp that it is a navigational dilemma trying to get around. In that area there are three deep potholes that we all say are going to become sinkholes they are that big. I understand there are more important roads than in an estate, but the situation is crazy and some of the potholes are quite severe.

“Northumberland is a massive tourist area and a concern is that a tourist is not going to come back if they wreck their car in a pothole.”

Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for Environment and Local Services at Northumberland County Council, was delighted with the work the authority was doing to fix the county’s roads, with the £7.73m fund on top of £18m the council had already agreed to repair roads this year.

He said: “A lot of these roads haven’t had maintenance work for a long time, but are in desperate need of it. We need to make sure rural roads, such as C roads and unclassified roads, get the attention they haven’t been getting”